A Clarinetist in Paris

A Clarinetist’s Guide to Paris

When most people think of Paris, images of the Eiffel Tower, Louvre, and other famous monuments come to mind.  These are all must-sees for any tourist, but I’ve collected a few places clarinetists shouldn’t miss.  So, if you’re a clarinetist and planning on visiting Paris in the future, here are my recommendations of places to see and things to do:


Instrument Manufacturers, Repairs & Accessories

Buffet Factory

Vandoren Paris: Not only is 56 Rue Lepic the culmination of 110 years of quality clarinet and saxophone accessories, but Vandoren’s Paris headquarters houses an impressive collection of clarinet sheet music, recordings, and books.  You can also try any piece of Vandoren equipment in one of their testing rooms.  Make sure to take a look at the mini-museum on the ground level to see Vandoren memorabilia throughout the years.  While you’re in the area, wander around the famous Montmartre neighborhood. (56 Rue Lepic, 18th, metro Blanche)

Buffet Crampon: The Buffet Crampon manufacturing facilities are a bucket-list item for clarinetists in Paris.  I was lucky enough to perform a concert in the factory, but this location is usually closed to the public.  Contact Buffet Crampon for the availability and possibility of a visit.  (5 Rue Maurice Berteaux, Mantes-la-ville, metro Mantes)

Selmer Paris:  Another legendary clarinet manufacturer, Selmer Paris features a show room, repair shop, and testing facilities to try their clarinets and other products and accessories. (18 Rue de la Fontaine au Roi, 11th, metro République)

Cyrille Mercadier Clarinettes: This is a one-stop shop to purchase clarinet equipment and receive excellent clarinet repairs. (46 Rue de Mouscou, 8th, metro Rome)

Museums & Institutions

Porte de Pantin

Le Musée des Instruments à vent: Technically, this wind instrument museum is not in Paris and requires use of a car to get here, but it is definitely worth a visit. Since the 17th century, La Couture-Boussey has been the birthplace of many famous instrument makers, including the Buffet family.  This museum includes an impressive collection of historical wind instruments that any clarinetist will appreciate.  The best part?  If you aren’t able to travel to La Couture-Boussey, you can take a virtual tour here.  (2 Route d’Ivry, 27750 La Couture-Boussey)

Le Musée de la musique: Although this museum does contain several historical clarinets, this museum is recommended for any musician or music lover.  There are guided and self-guided tours in several languages.  After your visit, be sure to check out the neighboring Philharmonie de Paris for any upcoming concerts.  (221 Avenue Jean Jaurès, 19th, metro Porte de Pantin)

Le Conservatoire national supérieur de musique et de danse de Paris (CNSMDP):  More commonly referred to as the Paris Conservatory, this is the home to the famed solo de concours.  The solo de concours are an integral part of clarinet history, resulting in masterpieces of French clarinet repertoire, such as the Debussy Premiere Rhapsody and Messager Solo de Concours.  Reserach the Paris Conservatory concert schedule during your visit to Paris to attend performances by students at one of the most prestigious music schools in France. (209 Avenue Jean Jaurès, 19th, metro Porte de Pantin)

Bibliothèque Nationale de France: The National Library of France is an interesting historical venue in France with roots back to the 14th century.  An added bonus for clarinetists?  It houses many manuscripts of clarinet masterworks, including the Debussy Premiere Rhapsody and the Schumann Fantasy Pieces and 3 Romances. (Quai François Mauriac, 13th, metro Bourse)

Graves of Famous Musicians and Composers


Montmartre Cemetery: After your visit to Vandoren, walk by the Moulin Rouge and turn right on Avenue Rachel to enter the Montmartre Cemetery.  Besides the other famous musicians and composers buried here (including Berlioz, Boulanger, Delibes, Jolivet, and Offenbach), you will also find the graves of Adolphe Sax and Hyacinthe Klosé.  (20 Avenue Rachel, 18th, metro Blanche)

Père Lachaise Cemetery: The largest cemetery in Paris contains the graves of many famous musicians and composers.  The most popular include: Auber, Bellini, Bizet, Callas, Charpentier, Chausson, Chopin, Dukas, Enescu, Francaix, Kreutzer, Lalo, Jim Morrison (not classical, but still worth a visit), Piaf, Pleyel, Poulenc, and Rossini.  By no means is this a comprehensive list of musicians/composers buried in Père Lachaise – these are my favorites and the ones I consider most pertinent to clarinet. (16 Rue du Repos, 20th, Metro Père Lachaise)

Montparnasse Cemetery: Montparnasse Cemetery contains the graves of many intellectuals and artists.  I suggest: Auric, Dutilleux, Franck, d’Indy, and Saint-Saëns. (3 Boulevard Edgar Quinet, 14th, metro Edgar Quinet)

Sheet Music

Arioso Music

La Flûte de Pan: This is one of the most popular sheet music vendors in Paris.  With three locations on Rue de Rome (a street known for classical music vendors), there are hundreds of pieces for any imaginable instrumentation.  If you are a student, make sure to ask for a student discount.  (49 Rue de Rome, 8th, metro Europe)

Arioso Music: Another popular music store in Paris, Arioso has an extensive collection of clarinet sheet music.  Arioso is very close to La Flûte de Pan, so be sure to visit both music shops on Rue de Rome to stock up on any music you may need! (45 Rue de Rome, 8th, metro Europe)

Alphonse Leduc:  Alphonse Leduc is a family-run company and has been passed down for five generations.   It is one of the most famous publishing houses of classical music, and a visit to Alphonse Leduc is a must for any classical musician visiting Paris. (New address as of July 2016: 10 rue de la Grange Batelière, 9th, metro Richelieu-Drouot)

Concert Halls

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Opéra Garnier/Palais Garnier: My personal favorite of the Parisian concert halls is the Opéra Garnier.  This was the home of the Paris Opera until 1989 when Bastille became their main venue.  Now, the Opéra Garnier is used mostly for ballet.  If you can’t attend a concert at the Palais Garnier, be sure to tour the luxurious and decadent concert hall, which was the setting for Gaston Leroux’s book The Phantom of the Opera.  During your tour, be sure to check out the Paris Opera Library Museum. This is no longer managed by the opera and is now a part of the French National Library, but you can visit the Opera Library Museum on unguided tours of the Palais Garnier. (8 Rue Scribe, 8th, metro Opéra)

Opéra Bastille: The Bastille Opera House is the main venue of the Paris National Opera today. This is a modern opera house which was inaugurated in 1989 as part of Francois Mitterand’s “Grands travaux” project.  Check out the concert schedule to attend a performance here during your next Paris trip. (Place de la Bastille, 12th, metro Bastille)

Philharmonie de Paris: In addition to several concert halls, the Paris Philharmonie also houses the Music Museum, exhibition centers, and educational spaces.  Established in January 2015, this is one of the newest concert halls in Paris. The Paris Philharmonie includes a variety of music concerts, including classical, world, jazz, and other genres. (221 Avenue Jean Jaurès, 19th, metro Porte de Pantin)

La Maison de la Radio France: Home of the Orchestre de Philharmonique de Radio France, the Maison de la Radio France also hosts several other local and visiting ensembles.  There are a variety of musical performances and concerts for musicians and music-lovers of all ages.  (116 Avenue du Président Kennedy, 16th, metro Avenue du Pdt Kennedy)


  • Kyle Y

    Hi Jenny, thanks for creating this blog.
    I’m planning on trying and buying a Selmer Paris bass clarinet at Paris sometime soon. Do you know any stores where I can both try and purchase a Selmer Paris clarinet at the same location? Selmer doesn’t sell instruments at their showroom and is very vague as to which of their distributors actually sell their horns at a store or let you try them. Do you have any insight as to how taxes or claiming works after purchasing the instrument and travelling back to the US?
    Thanks, Kyle

  • Natalia Morgan

    Hi, My name is Natalia Morgan, and i am 14 years old. I am a young clarinetist who love this instrument. I will go to visit Paris in june. I I had been asking mam to buy me a buffet clarinet there, but we dont know if it will be convinence for the price, could you help me with this information, or if i can buy a second hand clarinet, the costs and where.


    • jennymaclay

      Hi Natalia, I hope you have a wonderful time in Paris! I would visit the Buffet Crampon showroom in Saint-Germain, and you can also visit Cyrille Mercadier by Rue de Rome. Good luck!

  • Vernon Hendon III

    I’m heading to Paris in September and can’t wait to explore the sites you suggested. Thank you

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  • Maciej Bosak

    Great, nicely done!
    Any places / streets when you can purchase used scores and period instruments?

    • jennymaclay

      Hi Maciej, I’m glad you liked the article! For used scores, I would visit Rue de Rome, which has several sheet music stores (including Arioso and La Flute de Pan). I’m not sure about a store which sells exclusively used music, but most of the music stores have sections with used and discount music. For period instruments or vintage accessories, I would also visit Rue de Rome. In addition to the vendors listed in the article, I’ve seen vintage clarinets and accessories at Au Gré Des Vents. This store also does excellent repairs, including a few cork crises I’ve had this past year. I hope this helps!